We discuss the global mass surveillance program and what it could mean for our liberties as we move into the future.
In 2013 a man by the name of Edward Snowden who was working on behalf of the USA’s National Security Agency leaked classified documents to the press unveiling the Government’s mass surveillance program aimed at collecting mass amounts of data of private citizens. The revelations caused public outrage as many people found themselves betrayed and invaded by their own Government. The complexity of the revelations spanned globally, with Snowden revealing the British GCHQ having the most complex of citizen mass surveillance.
“From now, know that every border you cross, every purchase you make, every call you dial, every cell phone tower you pass, friend you keep, article you write, site you visit, subject line you type, and packet you route, is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards are not”
— Edward Snowden
Whether or not Edward Snowden’s actions were justified truly depends on who you speak to. To some, he is a hero. To others, he stands as a traitor to his nation. Edward Snowden stood conflicted in his actions when he weighed up the oath he swore to defend the constitution and the civil non-disclosure agreement he signed protecting the state secrets. Snowden proceeded with his decision to release the documents which eventually leaked via The Guardian newspaper. Less than a month after the newspaper’s revelations the US charged Edward with espionage and theft of property. Leaving him no choice but to leave his life in the USA behind and seek refuge overseas. Edward’s story is available in the academy award winning documentary, Citizenfour.
As a former soldier, I truly believe in the value of intelligence gathering and national defence. But this must be inline within the morals and wellbeing of our society. Snowden’s revelations were not aimless disclosures of top secret intelligence operations, but rather a carefully chosen method of releasing the evidence of an unlawful system that the courts have since declared illegal.
“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
Do you care?
There is unmistakable apathy to a problem that cannot be seen and doesn’t directly affect many people. If the Government was literally sending guys into your home to snoop through your personal belongings, then the issue would be acted upon differently. But this advanced level of technological privacy invasion is leaps and bounds beyond the average person’s apprehension, thus leading to a collective lack of interest on this issue. But you should care because it does affect you and it affects our future generations. So what if you’re a person who doesn’t actually care that the Government is collecting your metadata, consisting of social media photos and messages? “I’ve got nothing to hide, right?” Absolute nonsense and I’ll tell you why.
Such vast submission to state clandestine programs that strip away our personal freedoms piece by piece as your data gets passed amongst global intelligence networks outright stinks. We have no accountability of these foreign nations, nor can we be certain of their motives with our data. Such programs don’t just affect you. They pass from generation to generation. Perhaps our future citizens may not be so apathetic when they’re facing blackmail from corrupt actors who have obtained some of your personal information via this system. The vast collection of data collected by our intelligence services, unquestionably makes them more powerful and more capable of protecting the nation’s interests. And if you’re a patriot, that’s a good thing right? Perhaps you feel that your disapproval of such tactics is somehow counterintuitive to being a good citizen? But I implore you to think of the consequences of this system falling into the hands of a Government that chooses to take the country into the wrong direction in some distant future. Don’t always assume that your nation will have your best interests at heart. History makes this very clear.
“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home, or correspondence.”
For more understanding on this entire issue of mass surveillance, and to learn how to legally attempt to obtain what information GCHQ has collected on you, head on over privacyinternational.org now.